Last week, we asked several guests to write about their recollections from playing the original Mega Man Zero on the GameBoy Advance. This week, we’re focusing on the 2nd game in the series, Mega Man Zero 2, released in late 2003.
If you read my last Mega Man Zero recollections post, you’ll know that when Mega Man Zero was released, my optimism about the Mega Man series was at an all time low. That lack of optimism went double for Mega Man sequels. The original series peaked at years ago Mega Man 2 (sorry MM3 fans!) [editor’s note: Jonathan Holmes, stirring up all kinds of controversy!], the X series peaked three games earlier with Mega Man X4, and the Legends series peaked with the Misadventures of Tron Bonne, which wasn’t even a “real” game in the franchise. [editor’s note: Hold your horses, Legends fanatics, there isn’t a surprise third game in the series that you didn’t know about]. As much as I loved the Mega Man games, I have come to expect that with every sequel, the quality of the game was probably going to take a hit.
Hit the jump for more!
Once again, it was the Mega Man Zero series to the rescue, as Mega Man Zero 2 would go on to restore my faith in the Lord (of Mega Man sequels).
Just as Mega Man 2 expanded upon on the gameplay concepts and style of Mega Man 1, Mega Man Zero 2 used the original Mega Man Zero as a prototype, but would go on to also deliver a more refined and finished-feeling product. With its traditional Mega Man-style boss selection screen and ability to gain EX Skill weapons from bosses, Mega Man Zero 2 felt more like a “real” Mega Man game that the original.
It also wasn’t afraid to add new ideas, like the ability to pull off in-game “achievements” to earn new body-types. That little bit of design genius made grinding in Mega Man Zero 2 all the more rewarding. I don’t know how many time played through the flying-bug-robot-disaster level just to earn Erase Form, Rise form, and Whatchamacallit Form, but I do know that it was fun enough that I still remember it seven years later. Little motivators like those multiple forms and EX skills made replaying Mega Man Zero a joy. It’s probably the Mega Man game I’ve replayed the most out of hopes of finding new stuff, which is saying a lot for a series so well known for their replay value.
Oh, and I almost forgot the Chain Rod. Years before Bionic Commando Rearmed hit the scene, Mega Man Zero 2 was the closest thing we had to a new Bionic Commando game, and that was all thanks to the Chain Rod. It’s an awesome, awesome weapon, much more awesome than it really deserves to be. They could have made a spin-off to Mega Man Zero 2 just called “Chain Rod” where all you do is Chain Rod the crap out of stuff, and I would have bought two copies. [editor’s note: hmmm…. *sends idea over to R&D*] With the Chain Rod you could grapple, pull a Scorpion-style “GET OVER HERE” on an enemy, swing from the ceilings, yank boxes, and just generally kick the crap out of stuff. Yeah man; the Chain Rod — it rules.
All that stuff and more (much of which was already mentioned in the previous Mega Man Zero 2 recollections posts) made Mega Man Zero 2 the definitive Mega Man Zero game, at least in terms of design. Mega Man Zero 2 would prove to be the template for the series, to be followed by the next two Zero games almost completely. The only thing that Zero 2 was really missing was a arch-nemesis for Zero, someone who would manage to survive for more than one game, someone who could do for Zero what Dr Wily had done for Mega Man. Unfortunately, we wouldn’t meet the immortal-old-man’s-head-in-a-jar-with-a-robotic-body who could fill that role until Mega Man Zero 3, but you’ll have to wait until next week to hear about that.